No, this is not a greeting card holiday for which gifts are given (at least not yet)… but it is quite a milestone of IP traffic growth. The Internet and all things IP have become ubiquitous in our lives over the last 20 years with seemingly everything either being connected or planned to be.  And how we use it has dramatically changed as well.  Things like fold out maps, video recorders, and board games have taken on an aura of nostalgia as they are replaced by GPS-enabled apps, smartphones, and Pokémon Go.  Such a transition puts more and more loads on networks worldwide.  Even when we aren’t doing something on the network, our devices are.  From software updates and connected backups to our favorite shows being recorded to watch later or the security cameras monitoring freeways, all of these have effects on the network, and all of them really start to add up.


When we started our Visual Networking Index more than a decade ago, we initially measured everything in Petabytes, then Exabytes and now Zettabytes, which is 10 to the 21st power number of bytes (so huge, it is simply hard to fathom).  For example, if each byte were a liter of water, a zettabyte would fill up approximately 7080 Pacific oceans.   And even that isn’t a full representation of the amount of traffic we forecast for 2016 as that total to be even higher at 1.1 Zettabytes.  However, before that total can be reached, first a milestone that has never been reached – the Zettabyte milestone – is met.  Based on our assessment of the run rate of the current level of traffic, that date is today, September 9th, making 2016  the official start of the Zettabyte era.

Congratulations and please take pause to celebrate (perhaps by connecting a few more devices to the network?).  And on behalf of all of us at Cisco, know that we’re continuing to not just track the latest trends and growth in networking but also continuing to innovate to enable greater speed, efficiency, growth and security for our service provider customers so we can celebrate this and other networking milestones together with you.

Learn more in our Service Provider Network Intelligence Hub.


Doug Webster

Vice President